I hope you all enjoyed and found interesting and worthwhile the EAP@25 event on 16th November, whether you were there in person, watched on-line or have followed up afterwards. I extend my thanks to Petter and the EAP team, the hosts at Hogan Lovells and other sponsors.
I enjoyed it enormously and thought I would take an opportunity to provide some thoughts. It was a pleasure for me to attend, speak to you and answer some questions as I have recently joined the board of trustees of EAP, and many of you know or realise I continue to work in my role as Head of Profession for infrastructure and urban advisers in FCDO. I take this opportunity to clarify that both EAP and FCDO are aware of my complementary roles.
More important for this forum is the role of engineering in international development and poverty reduction. The discussions we had at EAP’s 25th anniversary highlighted for me the challenge we have in ensuring the profession is fit for the future. Humbly sitting on a panel alongside professors from Imperial College and London South Bank University, interacting with a past President of the Institution of Civil Engineers and renewing a friendship with a fellow trustee from South Africa was fantastic and an honour for me.
My role in FCDO is focused on the capability of our infrastructure and urban advisers (practitioners and experts), their individual and collective breadth and depth, how we deploy that and how it works with other areas of expertise. As Head of Profession (HoP), I ‘own’ our technical competency framework (TCF) and steer continuing professional development (CPD). I work alongside twelve other HoPs as well as our procurement colleagues and programme managers. Most but not all of these advisers are engineers which is of course a solid foundation for what we need but the TCF explains how we take that and translate it into infrastructure activities, outputs and impact. Going further the advisers work with others on complex problems in an inter-disciplinary manner, often using a systems thinking approach (I stress inter-disciplinary as multi-disciplinary approaches can still create disciplinary siloes). And possibly most important in all of this is the need to take account of political economy aspects of all that we do – something EAP excel at.
So – interdisciplinary systems thinking is key and I am sure Priti Parikh’s presentation at the ICE in December will cover this. As is thinking and working politically, recognising that we do not and should not work in a technical vacuum or engineering silo. But we do need the foundation of technical competence.
I will also take this opportunity to mention that the new White Paper ‘International development in a contested world: ending extreme poverty and tackling climate change’ has been officially launched, so I suggest you look at this but I will leave others in EAP or readers of this blog to comment.
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